scaring teens until they stop smoking

Anti-cigarette ads are tough to pull off well. After all, the primary target for the anti-smoking message is primarily a younger, teen consumer and, as we well know from our own experience, teens aren’t all that concerned about the future. They are invincible, you know. As a commenter on my earlier post about Saatchi & Saatchi’s excellent anti-smoking ad says, the strategy of showing the grim effects of smoking on a person are easily ignored by a target audience that just isn’t affected by that sort of message.

The Saatchis ad was still excellent as an ad. It was visually arresting, definitely stands out and it delivers the “same old” message far better than others before it. And others after it, like this ad from Soria&Grey at Ads of the World:


It’s scary all right. And sort of weird. But mostly scary.

The issue is that it and its messaging is nothing that hasn’t already been tried before. The Saatchis ad makes the same old messaging interesting, at least. This is just a re-tread and is hardly going to be effective based, as it is, on a flawed strategy and otherwise creatively uninteresting.

Smoking is appealing for teens primarily, I would guess, because it is cool in a Rebel Without A Cause sort of way.

A good strategy for anti-smoking ads would be to target the reason why kids do smoke and change their belief, resulting in a behavior change. Scaring them straight has been tried and, on the evidence in front of us, hasn’t worked.


5 responses to “scaring teens until they stop smoking

  1. In my view now-a-days mostly the teenagers are smoking. But it will harm their bodies, it is also to note that life expectancy also decreases by smoking. I suggest the teenagers should quit smoking and eat a healthy balanced diet food to maintain their physique. My personal experience is that I was a chain smoker, now i left smoking and leading a happy and comfortable life.

  2. Here’s some additional insight that isn’t widely known. Efforts like the Truth campaign are technically funded by Big Tobacco. The budgets are derived from the settlements of lawsuits against the cigarette makers. In the end, Big Tobacco even gets to dictate what can and can’t be communicated in the advertising. During the very early stages of the Truth campaign, which was started by Crispin in Florida markets, the messages were highly successful because the ads directly and specifically slammed tobacco companies. Some would argue the work was so successful, Big Tobacco created more mandates to lessen the impact of the messages. The Truth campaign continues to do lots of positive things, but Big Tobacco is doing better things to increase smoking. Big Tobacco has decreased its typical advertising in favor of “guerrilla” tactics like having stars smoking in major movies. Seeing Brad Pitt puffing away in the latest blockbuster is better than any print or broadcast campaign for cigarette companies.

    It’s well known now, but the basic idea behind the Truth campaign was to expose the tactics of Big Tobacco and let teens fight back—in snarky and irreverent and relevant and effective ways. The campaign didn’t employ the tried-and-true-and-impotent tactics involving death scares. It’s not about scaring teens—it’s about empowering them. Every time I see teen-focused ads using fear of death, I think someone has just wasted their money. And in most cases, Big Tobacco is more than happy to see those types of ads, because they know they are ineffective.

  3. Pingback: Adaptable From Health Problem Smoking » Blog Archive » scaring teens until they stop <b>smoking</b>

  4. No ad is going to stop the young from smoking. The young are even more rebellious than their older smokers who very well know that smoking is killing them.

    The real fight to stop young or anyone for that matter from getting hooked or addicted to cigarettes or for that matter any substance that is addictive is for us to educate our very governments to put in laws to stop tobacco companies from creating harmful and addictive substances.

    It is an evil creation that has agendas that are beyond the discussion boards such as this one to make people understand that what they are doing infact is playing a game with the devil. This statement may be an extreme one but if you notice that no government (western) has laws prohitibiting companies from creating harmful substances that can be abused.

    This is exactly what is happening in our western countries and to a greater level now in poorer countries where governments are powerless to push laws forbidding such copmpanies to operate in the first place to create substances of abuse, substances that do damage, and substances that are highly adictive and unnecessary to out society and for that matter any society on this planet.

    Kill the devil with-in and you will kill the the devil with-out : a spiritual proverb.

    An alternative way to beat any govenment or the totalatarian rulers of this planet is simply to use the power of thought to dismantle the cobwebs from deep within our souls. (Spi-ritual talk).

  5. basically, all you have to do in reality is stop the teens from acsessing the harmfull substances in the first place, or, if they already do smoke, just find out why they started, and use it against them, some of the information on this website is extremley helpful and i appriciate that, i am a teen myself and im expiriencing my friends smoking, i havent bothered with it myself and i dont intend to, but i am aiming to get them both to stop aswell for the wealth of their future and their present.

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